Dioner Navarro followed Todd Frazier's game- tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning with an RBI triple to lift the Cincinnati Reds over the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, in the rubber match of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
John Axford (5-8) struck out the first two batters he faced in the ninth before allowing three straight hits to take the loss for Milwaukee, which fell to four games behind idle St. Louis for the NL's final wild card spot.
"We've been coming together as a team really well and today is just a crushing loss," Axford admitted. "We put ourselves in a tough spot now."
Jonathan Broxton (3-1) stranded a man on third base in the top of the ninth to receive the win for the NL Central-champion Reds, who have won three of their last five.
Mat Latos got the start for Cincinnati and allowed a run on three hits and a walk over seven dominant innings.
"I was really proud of Mat. He didn't have his good stuff today, but he pitched and gave up the one run and that was it," Reds acting manager Chris Speier said of his starter.
Wily Peralta started the game for Milwaukee and allowed two hits and a walk while striking out six over 5 1/3 shutout frames, but was forced to leave the game with an undisclosed injury after fanning Latos for the first out of the sixth.
Cincinnati entered the ninth inning trailing and Broxton struck out Zack Cozart and Joey Votto to start the frame, but Frazier followed by hammering a ball over the center-field wall.
Jay Bruce then slapped the first pitch he saw into left field for a single, and Navarro pulled two potential home runs just outside the foul pole in right field before sending a ball into the right-center field gap to cap a nine-pitch at-bat.
Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki fielded the ball and threw it home, but Bruce easily beat the toss and crossed the plate without a slide for the deciding run.
Neither team recorded a hit until Carlos Gomez led off the third inning with a shot into the seats in right field, giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
Milwaukee had a chance to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth by placing a runner on third with one out, but Broxton escaped the jam by striking out Corey Hart before inducing line out to left field by Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
Cincinnati won the season series between the teams, 9-6 ... Gomez hit his 17th home run of the season, while Frazier hit his 19th ... Milwaukee was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base ... The Reds were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and stranded five.